When I was asked to speak at a recent Girl Geek Dinner here in Saskatoon, I immediately said yes. I love public speaking. The trouble was I had no idea what I was going to talk about. Knowing that the audience would come from diverse backgrounds, I didn’t want to discuss a highly technical software topic that would be applicable only to a handful of the attendees. At our previous dinner, we had watched Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk about why there aren’t more female leaders, which seemed to be well-received. But I wanted to discuss something more personal.
In preparation for a talk I’m giving at the next local Girl Geek Dinner, I had several of my friends fill out a questionnaire regarding their perceptions of computer science and software development. I asked them about their educational backgrounds, their current professions, what they believe a software developer does on a day-to-day basis, how they’d feel if they were software developers, and so on. The responses have all been really interesting (and sometimes surprising) to me. I found myself on the edge of my seat each time a new set of responses rolled in.
Stereotypes of computer scientists abound. There are few professions that elicit such a clear (if not accurate) vision of personal disposition, manner of dress, work habits, and dietary eccentricities than ‘software developer’.